Atta Ikede

March 21, 2008

The Mirage

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 2:28 pm

i had been thinking about moving away from toronto for almost 2 years before i actually pulled it off. That’s just how long it took for me to make up my mind about it. Things started happening really fast after I finally made up my mind! :)

There’s so much inertia in the present. I didn’t have any leases or commitments to worry about, so most of my inertia was just mental. Leaving my friends, my family … But that’s probably the strongest inertia of all! How could I leave the warm blanket of comfort that had developed around me for something that might end up being cold and lonely? It felt so warm and cozy there where I was!

I think the strongest factor in overriding my inertia was the promise of a clean slate. The promise and opportunity of going somewhere I could be a stranger, where I could adopt whatever persona and habits I wanted. I could even test out trial personas to see what fits! So tantalizing!

Well guess what. I think I’ve become jaded about this whole “clean slate” thing. There is no clean slate!!

A couple of my other friends have blogs, and some of them link to their friends’ blogs. There’s this whole chain of blogs a person can peruse, should they have the time.

A few day ago, I was poking around certain blog, and followed a link to another person’s blog. Let’s call this person XYZ.

XYZ and I have some mutual friends and although we’re technically not friends, it’s one of those things where I vaguely know the guy because i’ve just seen him around a few times here and there over the years. XYZ moved to a foreign country shortly before I did. In his blog, he talked about how he was looking forward to starting fresh etc., and I suppose was trying his best at it, but then later he blogged about how he’d unfortunately slipped up and gotten back to his old habits and developed a certain reputation within his new crew as a result. He seemed disappointed. I don’t know him that well, so I didn’t read everything in great detail, but I think the gist was that his new reputation was not so different than the one he had back home! In fact, perhaps his old reputation followed him to his new life!

(side note .. it feels weird to read the personal blog of a person I don’t really know. voyeuristic perhaps ??)

I believe his story! Different people, different environment, but same experience. I think there’s some degree of clean slated-ness that a physical move brings, especially when the new surroundings are completely cut-off from the old, but I don’t think a total clean slate is possible.

The only things that are immediately changeable are the superficial things. My hair, my body, my clothes. Even some of those are not so immediate.

Can the core essence of me, that which has been shaped by a lifetime of behaviour and experience, be changed so easily? Would I even want to change that? i have the values I do because I choose to have them. If I am to be a person of integrity, I have to ensure that my values are my own! I dont want to change them for flippant reasons. I have the habits I do because my experience dictates they are required. If those decisions shape my personality in certain ways, so be it! ok, that went a little off topic – In summary, my point here is that for one reason or another I don’t think that a core essence of a person is changeable.

Life experience is shaped by superficial things. That’s because life experience is shaped by people, and people are superficial. But I think that there’s a certain amount of depth that is required for any life experience to be meaningful, and that’s where the essence of a person shines through.

What I mean by that is yeah, maybe my life would be different if I changed my hair/body/clothes, because maybe I’d be exposed to different environments or sub-cultures because i’d superficially seem more approachable, but then i’d go open my mouth and express a certain opinion, or stay silent when I should have spoken, or express some other default behaviour — and then Bam! Suddenly it would be back to my usual life experience. Different people, same experience.

I haven’t had any experiences to the extent of what XYZ was talking about, but I think I’d been having some second thoughts about the reality of this clean slate thing in the back of my mind and they crystallized when I read his posts. Who knows, maybe he was just going all worst case scenario about stuff, but reading his posts was like .. seeing a reflection of my own fragmented thoughts on the subject. It resonated.

Do you know that expression “Putting lipstick on a pig” ? It means that you can dress up a pig but it’s still a pig. Maybe that’s what this idea of a clean slate is. I can move around, get a new apartment, buy new clothes, but that’s just the lipstick and inside i’m still a pig.

The clean slate is a mirage.

[ side note: I feel weird saying i’m a pig. I’d rather be a monkey … or a leopard! Way more exciting.]

ps – Don’t worry, i’m still happy here, and definitely glad I moved .. but i dunno. Feeling like the gloss is kinda wearing off the whole scheme.

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1 Comment »

  1. Swapna, I am glad that you have not changed. You are very right when you say that you can change the superficial things but not your core… why would you want to change anyways? You are wonderful the way you are. If we all tried to change the little things (good or “bad”) about ourselves that we didn’t like then we would all be clones of each other.

    If there is something about yourself that you truly do want to change then you should be able to do it anywhere… not just when people do not know who you are. I believe such changes should be done when you are around people that truly love and support you. They are the ones that can take an honest look at your change and tell you that you if you are making a positive change or are being an ass. They can guide you to help yourself make the change as opposed to strangers getting the “new you” as a first impression. Hey, if you try to take that clean slate and do a complete overhaul and then go back to your old self, then the new people may think you have some sort of multiple personality disorder and run for cover!

    If I continue I could start my own blog so I think I will stop here.

    The people you are meeting now are lucky to get the authentic Swapna experience and will be better off knowing the true you.

    Comment by Lisa — March 23, 2008 @ 9:55 pm


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